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Deep in the Fiordland wilderness winds the mighty Waiau River, the largest in Southland and home to one of the best mayfly hatches in all of New Zealand. Both rainbow and brown trout populations thrive in the clean, fast-flowing waters of this truly remote wilderness. The Upper Waiau in particular is known for world class fly fishing - the dramatic and rugged landscape is virtually inaccessible and therefore fishing pressure is low and the trout aren't fussy eaters. Populations are vast and the fish here renowned for their fine, healthy condition. And it's easy to see why - the notorious mayfly hatches on the Waiau are enough to create a feeding frenzy!
A great wilderness river
The Waiau River transports the enormous volumes of clear water that flow down from the soaring mountains, deep valleys and pure rainforest of Fiordland. The river flows through lush beech forest and the whole environment is alive with incredible natural diversity. The song of vibrant native birds echoes through unspoiled forests and the river is churning with big, healthy rainbows and browns. The landscape of this grand environment is wild, enchanting and spectacularly scenic - simply journeying into this paradise by jet boat is a privilege, as is fishing here.
'The' Mayfly Hatch
When conditions are right, the mayfly nymphs ascend from the riverbed to hatch on the water’s surface. On the Waiau River, conditions are better than right and the insect populations are truly staggering. Every evening there is a mass emergence of Mayflies beginning their final journey and as they rise from the bottom, silhouetted against the sky they are attacked with unusual ferocity. The evening rise on the Waiau rivals that of the popular Mataura River and the ensuing spectacle is unforgettable. The water boils and roils with snapping jaws, clapping and cutting at the surface with desperate intensity. Mouth agape, it can take a moment before you remember that your rod is needed in order to proceed!
Fishing the frenzy
In order to enter this beautiful and foreboding landscape and the home of one of New Zealand's best evening rises, it's necessary to proceed by jet boat. Fun and excitement aside, the jet boat is a practical kiwi invention that breezes fishermen and their rods up fast flowing, turbulent waters. Access the most productive stretches of the Upper Waiau and enjoy the challenge of fishing the beaches, islands and ripples from the comfort of the boat. When the daylight is fading and the mayflies begin to emerge from the thousands of tiny dimples on the waters’ surface, cast your fly precisely and strip your line back quickly as it drifts towards the boat. These fish WILL rise. Prepare for unforgettable action.
The Mark Wallace’s Distinctive Fishing Experience gets you right amongst the best action on the Waiau. Enjoy real kiwi hospitality and the competitive edge that is only available from a highly experienced local guide. Absolutely passionate and armed with a custom built jet boat, the Mark Wallace Distinctive Fishing Experience equips you for a serious, Waiau feeding frenzy.
Written: 2 articles
Fiordland’s mighty Waiau River is paradise for passionate anglers. Here, healthy fighting trout run pristine waters that wind through an extraordinarily grand environment. Join local expert Mark Wallace for a truly unique angling experience.